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This zip archive of six .XLS (Microsoft Excel) spreadsheet files is the index to all marriage licenses filed in New York City for the years 1950-1995. This index was originally kept by the New York City Clerk's Office, used as their in-house database.
Please note that this data is known to be somewhat incomplete, and is missing at least 30,000 records, primarily from the 1950's and 1960's. Those licenses still exist, but they are only available on microfilm or as scanned digital images created from those microfilms, and are not in this data file; however, all of those digital images have been uploaded to the Internet Archive for free use. There are other known problems with this database, including spelling mistakes and some malformed data.
You can read more about those issues, and search this entire file online for free, at www.NYCMarriageIndex.com.
Where did this data come from?
In late December 2015, the not-for-profit activist group Reclaim The Records made a New York State Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request asking for a public copy of this data from the New York City Clerk's Office. The Clerk's Office refused to answer both the FOIL request and its FOIL Appeal in a timely manner, and were therefore eventually named in an "Article 78" lawsuit in the Supreme Court of New York in March 2016. The City eventually settled with Reclaim The Records in September 2016, and provided the data that was requested, as well as reimbursing their attorneys fees.
The data that the City Clerk's Office eventually provided were in the form of six .XLS (Microsoft Excel) spreadsheet files, one for each borough of the City but two for Manhattan, which had the most records. Each file had multiple sheets within them, and the files had many data format and content problems.
Reclaim The Records turned the six .XLS files into five cleaned-up and concatenated .CSV files. They also loaded those five CSV files into a MySQL database with five tables, one for each borough of New York City. An auto-incrementing 'id' field was added to each of the five tables, as there was no unique or primary key in the files previously. This download represents a zip archive of the original six .XLS files, untouched. They're presented here for public use, but you'd probably be better served starting with the slightly less messy CSV or SQL versions instead.
This SQL file, the CSV files, and the original XLS files are all in the public domain as public documents, and have all been uploaded to the Internet Archive. There are no restrictions on their use. Feel free to republish them, use them in projects, for personal research, or anything else you'd like.
To learn more about the backstory behind these files, and to read the request, the original court documents, and the settlement papers, click here.
To search this data online, inlcuding a later data set for 1996-2017, check out www.NYCMarriageIndex.com.
To learn more about Reclaim The Records and our work bringing public archival data back to the public using Freedom of Information laws, check out www.ReclaimTheRecords.org, follow us on Twitter at @ReclaimTheRecs, or Like us on Facebook.
Thanks go to our attorneys at the New York City law firm Rankin & Taylor, for taking our case and seeing it through to its successful outcome.